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  #1  
Old 01-25-2019, 07:04 PM
HelpingFamily13 HelpingFamily13 is offline
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Default Filing for spousal social security.

This seems like an issue that someone else must have dealt with but I haven't been able to find any specific information about it.

The situation relates to filing for spousal social security benefits where one spouse who didn't work most of their life is allowed to file based on the work of the other spouse. The spouse that worked is incarcerated and unable to file for social security as a result of that.

The wife who is not incarcerated is unable to file for SSA benefits because their benefit is tied to the incarcerated husband. According to the social security administration, the primary spouse has to file first before their partner can file for spousal benefits. But since the husband is incarcerated they cant file. The SSA said that the wife would have to divorce the icarcerated husband which would separate their benefits and allow the wife to file for benefits. This seems like an unacceptable situation if they don't want to get divorced.

This seems like a simple issue, if the incarcerated husband files for benefits it would allow the wife to get their benefits even if the husband gets denied because they are in prison. The SSA said they just have to see that the primary spouse filed so as to close out the benefits so that they know how to calculate the other spouses benefits.

Does anyone have experience with this issue or know a good resource. I understand that it's against the law for an inmate to get social security but why can't they just file and get denied thus allowing their spouse to file for spousal benefits?
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Old 01-26-2019, 04:37 AM
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I'm not certain, but prisoners Social Security benefits are "suspended" for each month they are locked up. Apparently they can just be reinstated after the sentence is completed, so he should be able to file for his own benefits, and have them awarded but held, not "denied".
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Old 01-26-2019, 12:31 PM
rockchalk1 rockchalk1 is offline
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I'm not certain, but prisoners Social Security benefits are "suspended" for each month they are locked up. Apparently they can just be reinstated after the sentence is completed, so he should be able to file for his own benefits, and have them awarded but held, not "denied".
I believe they're suspended, but not "held". Meaning, when the person gets out they don't suddenly get a catch up distribution, so he never gets back what he didn't collect while he was in prison, although by delaying the initial contribution, through no choice of his own, his benefit will be greater anyway.

The reason they suggest getting a divorce is that if you've been married for 10 years and get a divorce you can get the partial benefit of your ex-spouse. Even if you remarry, and the second spouse passes away, you then can choose to go back to the first spouse if their benefit were greater.

His social security benefit is for him, not her and it's not the survivor benefit, that's the problem with this scenario, since she's not single/widow status. If he has an IRA she is better off taking that since he is obviously older than 59-1/2. Or depending on the length of the sentence, if he isn't getting out anytime soon, then do consider divorce, and then just remarrying him when he's out. The divorce amount however, is not the same as his amount would be when he can collect for himself.
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Old 01-26-2019, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by HelpingFamily13 View Post
I understand that it's against the law for an inmate to get social security but why can't they just file and get denied thus allowing their spouse to file for spousal benefits?
Rockchalk already explained it, but this is the flaw in the plan. ^^^ The inmate is still living and they are still married, so he is entitled to his benefit but it is not allowed to have it right now. If he were to pass, or they decide to divorce, different story.

To allocate spousal benefits to the non-incarcerated partner can't happen because essentially they see your marriage as equal access to the money.
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Old 01-26-2019, 02:23 PM
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Rockchalk already explained it, but this is the flaw in the plan. ^^^ The inmate is still living and they are still married, so he is entitled to his benefit but it is not allowed to have it right now. If he were to pass, or they decide to divorce, different story.

To allocate spousal benefits to the non-incarcerated partner can't happen because essentially they see your marriage as equal access to the money.
Right, I am pretty sure that the spousal death benefit is less than if they were together and he was receiving the benefit. It is on the annual statement, but only he would have access to that. I know it's not the same as the divorce spousal benefit. My husband's ex wife can claim on his social security benefits, it doesn't take away from what he will get and it's only a share of his anyway. So if his benefit is greater than hers, she is better off taking his.

My friend's mother was remarried and when her second husband died, she went back and claimed the social security of her ex husband because his was a greater benefit. I was amazed she could go back and do it since she had been remarried for over 30 years, but if you were married the first time for 10 years, you can claim it. Go figure. My ex husband might be good for something in the future afterall!
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Old 01-26-2019, 05:36 PM
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Here is the Social Security "spousal benefits" information. There are very limited situations where a spouse can receive benefits based on their significant-others' earnings, which are explained here.
https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/applying6.html

The inmate can apply while incarcerated, but will not receive a check (you are right, they are suspended, and not ever paid) for any month after they have been locked up in a jail or prison for 30 consecutive days.
https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10133.pdf

One other consideration (if spousal benefits are not available, such as when caring for a disabled child) is the sooner someone applies for retirement benefits, the smaller the check will be. If a prisoner's spouse is ineligible to receive spousal benefits during the imprisonment, it is better to delay applying for benefits until after release.

Other US Government pensions can be paid directly to inmates during imprisonment (especially to ex-legislators), or like Veteran's Administration pensions, can be paid to a spouse instead of to the prisoner, so it depends on the actual pension documents.
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Old 01-26-2019, 10:34 PM
Osugirl Osugirl is offline
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While in prison the spouse can not get SSA since it's tied to the incarcerated spouse. It sucks but it stops fraud.
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Old 01-27-2019, 06:21 AM
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Fraud by whom? You pay up to $32,800.00 each year in Social Security tax (self employed or 1/2 paid by employees, 1/2 by their employer) for your entire working life (20?, 30?, 40? years) for a maximum monthly retirement check of $2831.00 that the government considers to be a "benefit" like food stamps. If you become one of the millions of US Prisoners, your "return on investment" is zero.
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Old 01-27-2019, 12:02 PM
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Fraud by whom? You pay up to $32,800.00 each year in Social Security tax (self employed or 1/2 paid by employees, 1/2 by their employer) for your entire working life (20?, 30?, 40? years) for a maximum monthly retirement check of $2831.00 that the government considers to be a "benefit" like food stamps. If you become one of the millions of US Prisoners, your "return on investment" is zero.
Should be fraud by the SSA! I mean come on. Someone pays into SS, they qualify for the benefits at 62 or older, and then if in prison the gov't has the right to say, "oops sorry, you're in prison and since we're supporting you anyway, we don't have to pay you back in ss".

Even those not 62 yet get penalized because for each year they're earning 0 in wages, their future SS benefits will decrease. I have no idea how much my husband's have taken a hit. Hopefully not a lot since he is only out of the work force for once year, and he was paying the max in for so many years, but it will still take some hit, because I can see on my SS report when my income went down, it did. However, I am only 50 and he is 60. The one thing as POA I cannot get access to is his SS account online to see his benefits because that says anyone other than him logging in is committing a crime, so now way am I taking a chance to log in until he is out!

And, for the person who's SS are delayed or deferred, that's permanent. You don't retroactively get back what you would've been paid while in prison. So the SSA gets to keep your money. I guess they can say it's used to pay for you in prison, but that's bs. Meanwhile if her spouse had a 401k or IRA she would be able to draw on it no problem while he is in prison since those funds can be distributed to him. Of course, if she can handle it, she is best waiting as long as possible to get the SS anyway. The longer you wait the more it will be when claimed. She is probably better off just trying to get a job and earn social security benefits on her own. I would think she's had to have worked at least some job over the course of her life and thus has some credits earned. If not, then that ship probably sailed, but she can still just go get a job like the rest of us, unless she is disabled. There are plenty of jobs out there and a job is better than no job!
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Old 01-27-2019, 06:08 PM
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Social Security taxes have increased massively, and "high earners" can never hope to come anywhere close to breaking even on their investment. The SS money is also paid to disabled folks who may have never paid anything into Social Security and who qualify for SSI disability, so that portion is a government welfare program.

Since the Congress is able to spend/deplete/borrow without repaying, the phantom Social Security trust fund each year, there is no way they will ever change the way the system currently works.
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Old 01-27-2019, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by fbopnomore View Post
Fraud by whom? You pay up to $32,800.00 each year in Social Security tax (self employed or 1/2 paid by employees, 1/2 by their employer) for your entire working life (20?, 30?, 40? years) for a maximum monthly retirement check of $2831.00 that the government considers to be a "benefit" like food stamps. If you become one of the millions of US Prisoners, your "return on investment" is zero.
This is incorrect. For 2019, Social Security is paid on a max of up to $132,900 of earnings. So an employee pays $8,239.80 of their Gross pay into social security. The employer matches that, but it's not taken out of the employees gross pay. If you're self employed then you pay both shares of it. Not sure where you got the $32,800 though because it's capped at the $8239.80 and it increases every year, which means 5 years ago it was less.

For someone that is maxed out when they retired, their social security is well over $3k/month. My husband is over the $k/month threshold now and that's if he starts collecting when he is 62. He wasn't putting money in when he was 2. But let's say for this calculation he was 20 and again he wasn't putting in $8k a year when he was 20, but if he did, he would have put in 8239*42 years = 346,071 over that time.
If he decides to start collecting when he is 62 and it's at least 3k/month (although I know it's higher) and lives 20 more years, then he will get 3000*12*20=720,000 in social security payments back. That almost covers if he was self employed for 42 years as well as the maximum rate.

Unfortunately, the social security is probably going to dry up since there are not enough younger workers to support it. Also, there shouldn't be a cap on earnings, but there is. So once someone makes the $132,900 for the year, they stop paying into social security. Also, none of this takes into account that if you collect social security it goes up every year, nor does it take into account that when my husband was 20 years old he was working a part-time job and in some years he was making nothing. Even my social security is almost at the 3k/month level if I were to keep making what I'm making (which isn't maxed out) and I was a stay at home mom for many years.

The problem is that most of us would rather take our social security share and invest it in our own investments because we would create a better return on our investment than what the government is giving, but for some people, especially ones that wait until 70 to collect and live a long time, it is a great deal! But, most people take it when they're 62 as soon as possible and lose out on the extra money they would receive by deferring. For anyone out there that is thinking of taking it early, if you have other savings, you should burn through that before you take social security. Every month you delay taking social security, increase the monthly amount you'll receive for the rest of your life.
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Old 01-28-2019, 04:38 AM
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You're right, I did get the arithmetic wrong and your $8239.00 times 2 is the maximum tax per year for folks who earn $132,900.00. Sorry.

The maximum monthly retirement check is $2831.00, but it is approximately 1/2 of that (SS says it is $1417.22) for many workers who are retiring now.
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Old 01-29-2019, 07:22 AM
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You're right, I did get the arithmetic wrong and your $8239.00 times 2 is the maximum tax per year for folks who earn $132,900.00. Sorry.

The maximum monthly retirement check is $2831.00, but it is approximately 1/2 of that (SS says it is $1417.22) for many workers who are retiring now.
Who can live on $1417/month? That is ridiculous. For anyone out there if you have savings, you should try to hold off on taking the social security as long as possible and live off the savings. The difference in taking the social security later is huge. I recently researched this in determining if my husband should take it when he's 62 or if he can hold off. If someone can hold off to 70, they should.

The increase each year is also nominal as I see what my mother in law gets. Her social security payment is only $1,376/month. Thank god she has a survivors pension as well, otherwise she would have run out of money years ago. People should heed that, because they will run out of money as the cost of living only goes up and at a much faster rate than the SS will increase.
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Old 01-29-2019, 10:14 AM
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Having to live on nothing other than Social Security payments isn't realistic for anyone, but lots of people have no other option. SSI disability payments, folks who have never been healthy enough to hold "any job" (the Social Security requirement to qualify) receive about $750.00 a month. If they ever do find a job they can perform, the Social Security payments stop.

People without financial resources suffer in America, from cradle to the grave.
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Old 02-13-2019, 11:03 PM
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The government looks at this very simply. When a person is incarcerated, their needs are taken care of by the government. The government does not pay twice, which is why SSA is suspended until release. I am not positive that even divorce would provide relief while the spouse is incarcerated. Going to the SSA office is the best way to get answer.
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Old 02-15-2019, 09:28 PM
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The government looks at this very simply. When a person is incarcerated, their needs are taken care of by the government. The government does not pay twice, which is why SSA is suspended until release. I am not positive that even divorce would provide relief while the spouse is incarcerated. Going to the SSA office is the best way to get answer.
Divorce would because the ex-spouse is entitled to partial social security benefits of the ex spouse no matter what. So my husband's ex wife will be able to claim his social security when eligible if she wants if it's greater than what hers will be. Her cut however, isn't the full amount and it doesn't diminish what he would get. If this couple were to divorce, the spouse would not get the full amount the guy in prison would get if he were on the outside. It may only be half the benefit, I can't quite remember.
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